Israelis respond to mobs burning Christian churches and homes in Pakistan after blasphemy allegations
By Jonathan Feldstein
Perhaps you have heard the news. Fires torching hundreds of properties. Entire households burned to the ground. Every personal belonging lost. Thousands of lives destroyed. The devastation has been unprecedented, and it will take years to rebuild that which can be rebuilt. But the personal tragedies and lives lost may never heal.
If you’re in the West, you may have heard about the tremendous loss in Maui, Hawaii. Wildfires have left a trail of death and destruction. As horrible as that is, it is not what I am writing about today.
While Maui was burning in what was an act of God, Christian communities in Pakistan have been burning, torched to the ground, not as an act of God but as an act of evil. Trumped up charges of “blasphemy” by Moslems in Pakistan against two Christian men was the spark that set off a widespread rampage of attacks by Moslems against their Christian neighbors that have lasted nearly a week as of this writing.
In Pakistan, charges of blasphemy can carry a death penalty. Blasphemy can be as simple as “embarrassing” Islam. Sometimes, mobs of people take this Pakistani Islamic justice into their own hands. So much for the religion of peace.
For days, an out-of-control pogrom has been carried out against Christians, with law enforcement turning a blind eye as if there’s any legitimate excuse for that. Dozens of churches have been ransacked, looted, and burned to the ground. Hundreds of Christian homes were also attacked, looted, and burned. Personal belongings that were too big to loot were simply dragged to the street and burned. Countless bibles have been burnt, desecrated, destroyed.
All this, displaced thousands of lives, entire extended families forced to flee their homes, their communities, seeking shelter anywhere they could, even makeshift tents in open areas. Not that this would make them safer from the attacks of their Moslem neighbors. It just made them more vulnerable, marked, open to assault. Just less to burn. They fled with the clothes on their backs, and now have nothing left, and no homes to return to.
Even if they could return, how will they ever move back, even if their homes are rebuilt? How will they ever feel safe among the Moslem neighbors whose hate was ignited against them and their faith? But they are stuck in Pakistan, with nowhere to go, as second-class citizens, tolerated but not really accepted. The targets of evil hatred whenever there’s an excuse. There’s no recourse.
A few years ago, I posted a video on YouTube of a Christian man in Pakistan being lynched and burned to death. Apparently that – the posting not the lynching and burning – violated their “community standards” against violence. Earlier this year, because of that, YouTube blocked me. When I “appealed”, I got an immediate automated response that my appeal was rejected. I laughed at first, realizing that YouTube houses no shortage of gratuitous violence, but when it comes to posting real crimes to highlight the evil amid which Christians have to exist there, that’s too much for their sensitive community standards. I hesitate to post videos I have seen of the most recent violence, but they are real and horrific.
Unlike Maui, Pakistani Christians have no insurance. No state of federal money to rebuild. Police are not comforting, much less protecting the victims in Pakistan. Pakistani Christians exist in the crosshairs of a society that’s simply unsafe. They are tolerated, sometimes, but not protected. Second class? How about seventh class.
In the past week, many of my Pakistani Christian friends have turned to me, in Israel, for prayers and support. They are heartbroken, devastated, and scared. Yet as much as they fear for themselves and their families, they are trying to help those most in need, as good Christians should for one another. However, for them, simply reaching out to me, an Orthodox Jew in Israel, could trigger more violence, even lynching. As much as they may be “tolerated” in Pakistan, Israel and the Jews are the enemy.
They also know I’ll help, because I care, and because I did a year ago when they were struck by floods of Biblical proportions and Christians suffered because of their status far more than average Moslem Pakistanis. Seventh class.
I undertook this effort then on behalf of the Genesis 123 Foundation which exists to build bridges between Jews and Christians and Christians with Israel in ways that are new, unique, and meaningful. This includes looking out for persecuted Christians, specifically in the Middle East. A year ago, after unprecedented flooding across Pakistan, we stepped up to raise funds to support our Pakistani Christian friends who suffered even more of the devastation than the Moslem population. Unprecedented. An organization of Jews and Christians, run by an Orthodox Israeli Jew, reaching out to protect Christians in Pakistan. It was a blessing to do so, and it was our responsibility, to be a blessing to the families of the world.
As entire families in Pakistan have been devastated, we launched a campaign again, urgently, to provide any funding, as generously as possible, so we can help with the rebuilding. Our partners and friends are reliable and have the highest integrity. One is asking for a meagre $20,000. The truth is even $120,000 is not enough. But that’s our goal. We want the impact to be felt as widely as possible because there are and will be needs far beyond the physical and tangible losses.
I pray that Jews and Christians, and anyone of good conscience, will step up and join the efforts. Maui is horrible. My heart is pained for all the loss. But as much as that’s true, there’s no aid for Pakistani Christians. Not until now.
About the writer:
Jonathan Feldstein - President of the US based non-profit Genesis123 Foundation whose mission is to build bridges between Jews and Christians – is a freelance writer whose articles appear in The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Townhall, NorthJersey.com, Algemeiner Jornal, The Jewish Press, major Christian websites and more.
While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves. LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).